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Shoot In The Dark: $30K Camera With ISO 4 Million

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[leadin]Built for nighttime surveillance, cinematic production, and things like nature and wildlife documentaries, a new camera from Canon is blowing our minds.[/leadin]


Available at the end of this year, and costing $30,000, the ME20F-SH can truly capture images in the dark. It has an ISO sensitivity of over 4,000,000.

This extreme sensitivity lets it capture photos or video of subjects illuminated at less than 0.0005 lux. (That is, pretty much in the pitch black.)

Stills captured from still video shot on moonlight night.

As the company puts it, “This multi-purpose camera allows users to discern subjects under even some of the dimmest lighting conditions, such as under a moonless night sky.”


It does not use infrared illumination. It captures in color, and full HD resolution, via a CMOS sensor with extra large and finely tuned pixels.

The pixels measure 19 μm square3, which Canon notes is “more than 5.5 times the surface area of the pixels on the CMOS sensor featured in select top-of-the-line interchangeable lens cameras”).


The ME20F-SH, announced today, will go on sale on December of this year. It is compatible with the company’s interchangeable EF Lens lineup, meaning at least you can keep your old glass when you upgrade to the multi-purpose, nocturnal camera device.

For more information, see the press release at Canon.

Product name

ME20F-SH Multi-purpose Camera

Image sensor

35mm full-frame CMOS sensor (single), effective pixel count: approx. 2.26 million pixels

Minimum subject illumination

Less than 0.0005 lux (at maximum 75 dB gain setting, equivalent to an ISO sensitivity of over four million)

Pixel Pitch

19 Microns

Lens mount

Canon EF mount (Cinema Lock type)

Optical filters

ND filter with two density levels (motorized manual / auto) IR cut filter (motorized manual)

Frame rates

59.94P / 59.94i / 50.00P / 50.00i / 29.97P / 25.00P / 23.98P


Canon Log, Wide DR, etc.

Video output terminals


BNC jack (output only) Terminal count: 2

1080P / 1080i / 720P


HDMI connector (output only)

Genlock terminal

BNC jack (input only)

Remote terminal

φ2.5mm stereo mini-mini-jack (Canon-proprietary protocol)

Round 8-pin jack (for RS-422, Canon-proprietary protocol)

Microphone terminal

φ3.5mm stereo mini-jack


One-shot AF


Combined interlocking (iris / gain / ND / shutter)

White balance

AWB, color-temperature setting (setting range: 2000 to 15000 degrees Kelvin), natural light, light bulb, Setting A, Setting B

Digital teleconverter

2x, 4x

Power input

4-pin XLR DC11-17V

Terminal block 2-pin jack DC11-17V

Operating temperature

32 degrees F (0 degrees C) to 104 degrees F (40 degrees C)

Body dimensions

Approx. 4 inches (102mm) (w) x 4.5 inches (116mm) (h) x 4.4 inches (113mm) (d) (excluding protrusions)


Approx. 2.4 lbs (1.1 kg) (body only)

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